Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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The pipe organ of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh has stood in a state of incompletion for over 85 years. Installed in 1931 as Skinner Organ Company opus 855, the specification originally called for a grand instrument of 95 ranks and 77 stops spread across four manuals and pedal in six divisions. With the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 the congregation found itself unable to complete the project, and only 35 ranks of pipes were installed.

In 1957 Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company returned to install an Antiphonal division. The Antiphonal was installed in twin cases on opposing walls 20 feet above the Narthex floor. The specification reflected the changing tastes in organ building at the time, differing greatly from the main organ. The division consisted of an 8' Principal, 4' Octave, VI-VIII Plein Jeu, III-V Klein Mixture, 8' Trompette Harmonique, and 4' Clarion Harmonique. This division possessed no pedal stops, and the excess in Mixture tone severely imbalanced the division. The division remained mostly unaltered until the mid-2000s. At an unknown date the two Mixtures were sold without being replaced, leaving the division even more underpowered to support congregational singing. In 2015, with the chest and reservoir leathers rapidly nearing the end of their intended lifespan and the planned commencement of paint and plaster work in the narthex of the church, Sacred Heart chose to carry out a full rebuild and restoration of the Antiphonal aimed at broadening its capabilities and finally bringing the division to a level of artistic success. This was followed by the rebuilding of the Choir division, including a vintage Skinner French Horn, and a 1930s vintage Tuba Mirabilis speaking on 18 inches of wind pressure.

Antiphonal Organ Specification

Manual:

8' Principal

8' Bourdon*

4' Octave

4' Flute*

2' Super Octave*

IV Mixture*

16' Contra Trumpet*

8' Harmonic Trumpet

4' Harmonic Clarion

Pedal:

16' Subbass*

8' Principal

8' Bourdon

16' Contra Trumpet

8' Harmonic Trumpet

Choir Division Specification

16' Contra Gamba*

8' Open Diapason

8'

*denotes additional pipework

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